“Do not get upset with people or situations. Both are powerless without your reaction.”
~ Buddhist teaching
I rarely capture an image that I love, but this image is one of those rare exceptions. The path leading to the Adam Terry cemetery goes on up the mountain alongside the narrow hollow stream. At first I thought it was an old logging road since all the mountains in Eastern Kentucky, save for the Lilley Cornett Woods, have many times over been logged. And that may still be true, but I realized that the light leading the way through the trail led to an opening. Maps confirm that indeed it does. It opens to an enormous strip mine that has flattened the ridge above Ball Creek and the cemetery.
This part of the Eastern Kentucky landscape has been radically altered by strip mines and highways. When I was a little girl, almost 50 years ago now, the family made a trek to Ball Creek. It was still pristine back then. You could only drive the road up the creek so far before you had to drive in the creek, and then eventually, take a footpath to the head of the hollow where the Terry homestead used to sit. I think that part of the hollow is now Highway 80, filled in, the waterway changed accordingly and shown on the map as Big Branch. (Terry Branch of Ball Creek is closer to Soft Shell, a ways from the cemetery). Bad Ad owned the whole mountain I’m told. His oldest son, my grandfather, would have known all the details, and on this Father’s Day, I wish he was here to ask.
If I’m not mistaken, Adam and Lettie Terry’s graves were relocated when Highway 80 was built, hence their close proximity to it now. As much as I like the faster transportation through the mountains, I hate the thought of how much progress has changed family history. In fact, dad said time and again yesterday how he could have never imagined such a road through the mountains. I’m thankful for the easy travel, but I am especially grateful that I saw the mountains as God made them all those years ago (well, closer to the way God made them than they are now). They are part of me through and through. You can take the girl out of the mountains, but you can never take the mountains out of the girl. Not this girl anyway.
“Where there is great love, there are always wishes.” ~ Willa Cather
I got to spend another Father’s Day with this guy, the best dad I could ever wish for. We grabbed mom and off we went for another Eastern Kentucky adventure. After pigging out on excellent BBQ ribs at Prestonsburg’s Pig in a Poke, we went in search of Adam Terry’s grave. Known to many in Knott and Perry counties as “Bad Ad”, Adam was dad’s grandfather. When he wasn’t farming, or drinking, he made a living protecting moonshiners particularly during prohibition. According to family lore, he had over 20 stills in his care at one time. He killed an estimated 9-15 men. Four revenuers came up Ball Creek (it follows highway 1087/ Vest Talcum Road). They never left and were never found thanks to Bad Ad. They say he was so mean the preacher refused to bury him in the family plot at Ary where his first wife, my biological great-grandmother Elizabeth Jones, is buried. Instead, he was buried on his farm on Ball Creek with his second wife, Lettie Creech. Today, the cemetery sits beside Highway 80 near the Knott/Perry County line (it’s actually in Knott County). Dad and I tried to find it last year, but the trees had grown so much that we drove right past it, and we would have done it again if not for mom’s eagle eye. Some of dad’s cousins are now buried alongside Bad Ad. Even though the cemetery sits just off the road, the trees have provided a decent barrier, making it a quiet, beautiful spot. I love my Father’s Day adventures with dad. Today did not disappoint.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ~ Teddy Roosevelt
Today was Aunt Janet’s 78th birthday. Mom, dad, and I were joined by Martha Conley to help her celebrate. It was hard for her to celebrate what with being in a nursing home, but she tried, God love her, and we all enjoyed our fellowship with one another despite where we were. I’m grateful for another birthday to celebrate.
“Just be, and enjoy being. If you are present, there is never any need for you to wait for anything.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
I went to West Liberty to watch an afternoon of basketball with mom, dad, and the boys (the boys being Wally and Scrappy). This solemn look persisted most of the day until the final minute of the UK vs. Wichita State game. That’s when we were all screaming at the TV (as if they could hear us), and the dogs began to shake. UK was barely victorious; a nail-biter down to the wire. Louisville didn’t fair as well against their opponent, unfortunately. One of my favorite things is the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, and I always try to catch at least one game with dad. That, too, is one of my favorite things. I’m so glad I could catch a game with him.
“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Dad and I had a rare treat today. Mom had gotten very ill last night, so I stepped in to help. I took dad to one of his appointments with his favorite Dr. Forrester. Then, we were invited to my Aunt Charlene’s for supper with the family. Poor mom was still in bed, so unfortunately she wasn’t able to go. Dad’s BFF, Tony Adkins was there and the two assumed their normal positions. Food was delicious, the company superb. I told dad we had a good day all things considered. He replied, “Our time is always good. We go get, and take the guess out.” The Hillbilly Philosopher strikes again.
“An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.” ~ Zen Proverb
Wally doesn’t understand grace, but he understands roast chicken and veggies. He also understands that Papaw Terry is a sucker for a pitiful looking dog. Non-starving dog aside, aren’t our heroes sweet? They’re such a blessing to have around.
“Our days are happier when we give people a piece of our heart instead of a piece of our mind.”
Our super hero power couple celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. Tony Adkins, whom you met just last month, brought them pizza, and peanuts, and a movie at lunchtime. I heard tell the three of them got their bellies full then slept the afternoon away. God bless Tony for looking after them the way he does. I don’t know what I’d do without him. Last night, I reckon the Mennonites heard it was their Anniversary, so they stopped by to sing and visit for a while. Talk about good people. If you want anything fixed or built in Morgan County, that’s who to call. Top-notch craftsmanship, and honest as the day is long. Their visit really put a pep in mom and dad’s steps. As for me, I forgot to send them a card for a second year in a row. But I did post an anniversary picture of them on facebook this morning that’s now gotten more responses than everything I posted in 2016 combined. You see, our power couple wins the award for most popular couple as well. We’re going to celebrate mom’s birthday and this anniversary later, when it’s warm, so we settled for a phone call for now. I’m thankful to have them to call.
“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” ~ Mother Teresa
All week my mother had been saying, “Your birthday present will be here Saturday.” I was expecting flowers or something delivered from UPS. I was wrong. Mom and dad were just getting ready to go home today when a Jeep pulled in. I walked outside and there stood Tony Adkins and my aunt Charlene. So, I thought they were my present come to visit. Wrong again. They were delivering my present. I said to Charlene, “Now, what woman wouldn’t want a generator for her 52nd birthday?” We had a good laugh! I love my new generator, don’t misunderstand me. It’s something I’ve wanted since I bought my house. Score another point for mom in the birthday present department!
Still, I kinda liked the idea that Tony and Charlene were my gift. You see, theirs is an unexpected love affair. I don’t really remember them dating when I was a child, but I’m told they did. Then, Tony’s best friend, my uncle Ralph Paul, was killed in Vietnam and everything stopped. A few years later, Tony married an incredible woman, Sandy, whom I adored. They were, together and individually, salt of the Earth people that anyone would be proud to know, and they were great friends to mom and dad. And Tony, of course, was like family to me already. He said recently, “I’ve loved you since Tennessee Hound Dog;” a song by the Osborne Brothers that I sang a lot as a kid. I was sad when Sandy got sick and sadder when she died last year. You’d be hard pressed to find a kinder, more positive spirit than her. A few months before Sandy’s passing, Charlene’s husband died suddenly. Through sympathy card exchanges Tony and Charlene’s old romance rekindled, and here they are; like a fairy tale. Charlene said recently, “I’ve never been this happy in my life.” You’re never too old to find love and be happy. So, Tony and Charlene were my birthday present. Mom and dad were my birthday present, too. Every day with them is like a present. I’m a lucky, lucky woman, and boy am I grateful for that generator. Every girl needs one.